The sodium concentration gradient in the kidney (from the cortex to the medulla) serves to regulate fluid homeostasis and is tightly coupled to renal function. It was previously shown that renal function and pathophysiology can be characterized in rat kidneys by measuring the sodium gradient with 23Na MRI. This study demonstrates for the first time the ability of 23Na MRI to map the distribution of sodium in the human kidney and to quantify the corticomedullary sodium gradient. The study was performed on a 3T Signa LX scanner (GE) using an in-house-built quadrature surface coil. 23Na images of volunteers were acquired using a 3D coronal gradient-echo sequence at a spatial resolution of 0.3 x 0.3 x 1.5 cm3 in a 25-min scan time. The signal intensity (relative to the noise) increased linearly from the cortex to each of the medullae with a mean slope of 1.6 ± 0.2 in relative arbitrary units per mm (Rel.u./mm, N = 6) and then decreased, as expected, toward the renal pelvis. Water deprivation (12 hr) induced a significant increase of 25% (P < 0.05) in this gradient. Based on these results, we suggest that sodium MRI can serve as a valuable noninvasive method for functional imaging of the human kidney.
- Corticomedullary gradient
- Kidney function
- Sodium imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging